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Israel, Marshall, and Truman

In today’s Washington Post, Richard Holbrooke recalls America’s response to the declaration of Israel’s creation. He says that most of the “wise men” at the State Department opposed immediate recognition of Israel, because it would create so many problems with the Arabs. Defense Secretary Forrestal said there were 30 million Arabs [with oil] and 600,000 Jews [with no oil]. Secretary of State General George Marshall led the argument against immediate recognition. Clark Clifford, Truman’s domestic political adviser, led the argument for recognition. Holbrooke, who wrote Clifford’s biography says that domestic politics were not important, i.e., the Jewish vote. He might be biased.

Only with great effort was Secretary Marshall persuaded not to make a public stink when Truman recognized Israel, and then Truman went ahead and did it. It’s still questionable whether this was the right decision. Clearly it’s been good for Zionist Jews in America, who interestingly according to Holbrooke did not include the Jews who owned the Washington Post and the New York Times. But it’s not so clear that it’s been good for America as a nation. No doubt today’s high price of gasoline is in part due to Truman’s decision to side with Israel over the Arabs. And of course we have over 100,000 troops in Iraq doing something that is in part motivated by the defense of Israel. Both Hillary and McCain continue to pander to the Jewish vote by threatening to destroy Iran, which is the new target for Israel, now that the US has neutralized Iraq’s threat to Israel.

But it’s a never ending struggle for the US to defend Israel. Just in the last 24 hours Lebanon has threatened to blow up again. Will Bush “stay the course” in Lebanon, too, or will he follow Reagan’s example and stay out?

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